But it is unlike all others in that Trump is the only president to have been impeached twice by the House of Representatives
WASHINGTON: Former US president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial began on Tuesday. He is being charged for inciting last month’s deadly storming of the US Capitol amid debate over the constitutionality of trying a president after he has left office.
Hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6 after a fiery speech in which the then president repeated his false claims that his November 3 election defeat was the result of widespread fraud and urging them to “fight like hell (or) you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
The unprecedented scene, in which members of the mob attacked police, sent lawmakers scrambling for safety and briefly delayed Congress in certifying now-President Joe Biden’s victory, came after Trump spent two months challenging the election results. Five died, including a Capitol Police officer.
The Senate trial follows only the fourth impeachment of a president in U.S. history. But it is unlike all others in that Trump is the only president to have been impeached twice by the House of Representatives. He is also the only ex-president to face a Senate trial.
The trial could provide clues on the direction of the Republican Party following Trump’s tumultuous presidency. Sharp divisions have emerged between Trump loyalists and those hoping to move the party in a new direction.
Trump’s lawyers plan to open the trial on Tuesday by questioning whether the US Constitution allows the Senate to hold an impeachment trial for a president after he has left office.
Most Senate Republicans have embraced that argument, which strongly suggests that Democrats will be unable to garner the two-thirds majority needed to convict in the 100-member Senate. Democrats and many legal scholars reject the Republicans’ constitutional interpretation.
Senate Democrats are expected to prevail in Tuesday’s vote on the constitutionality of the trial. An effort to block the trial on those grounds was defeated 55-45 last month.
A prominent US impeachment expert cited by Trump’s lawyers in a brief advancing their argument accused the team on Monday of distorting his work “quite badly.”
A group of nine House Democratic impeachment managers will prosecute the case. They have accused Trump of betraying the country and the Constitution by fomenting acts of violence after falsely claiming the presidential election had been “stolen” from him by vote fraud.
“The House did not impeach President Trump because he expressed an unpopular political opinion,” House managers wrote earlier this month. “It impeached him because he willfully incited violent insurrection against the government.”
During the trial, they will argue that in working to overturn his election loss, Trump emboldened a mob to break through Capitol security to stop congressional certification of Democrat Biden’s victory.
The House Democrats prosecuting the case face a high bar, needing the votes of at least 17 Republicans as well as all 48 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them to secure a conviction. Agencies